Spent a couple of weeks showing my friend Verena a little bit of the South Island over Christmas. We started by walking the Banks Peninsula Walkway (photos to come), then had Christmas in Christchurch before heading over to a friends bach (small holiday house) 8km north of Punakaiki. Verena had tested positive for the dreaded COVID on boxing day, so we laid low there until she tested negative. Even with COVID we were able to do some exploring: it appears that Verena has an addiction to searching for shells and coloured rocks on the beach, much like mine for photographing birds!
After Punakaiki we visited Karamea for a couple of nights, staying at the Last Resort. We spent a day exploring the Oparara Arches, limestone caves through which the Oparara River flows. The bush and the caves make for an engrossing days walk.
Wakefield was next on the list, to visit a friend who had moved there from Little River. The drive over the Karamea Bluffs had a mysterious air to it, caused by low cloud shrouding much of the bush. Once through Westport you turn onto the highway that followers the Buller river. It was running high, so it was a brown colour as it flowed toward the sea. We stopped for a few photos at the Kilkenny lookout, which looks back to Hawks Craig, a tiny, horizontal cutting that dissects a shear rock face. It’s been widened since the heady days of it being only just wide enough for a horse drawn carriage and no guard rails! Now it’s controlled by traffic lights and is plenty wide enough for a car.
After a few days at Wakefield, eating, chewing the fat, hanging out in the sun and fishing: Verena caught a large King Fish off Rabbit Island in Neil’s boat, we headed back to Christchurch via Blenheim and Kaikoura.
Here’s a selection of the photos I took along the way. I had hoped to see some Blue Ducks and Bitterns around Karamea, but alas I wasn’t able to turn my hopes into reality … such is the life of a bird photographer!